PhD Studentship: Functional Role of BPIF proteins in Saliva

University of Sheffield - School of Clinical Dentistry

Saliva acts as a lubricant for mastication, a diluent for food tasting and aids swallowing and speech. It also helps to keep our mouths healthy by washing our mouths, acting as a buffer and contains a number of proteins, which have antibacterial, antifungal and/or antiviral activity. Salivary dysfunction is associated with oral pain, infections (both oral and systemic) and an increased risk of dental caries.

We are interested in the role of members of the PLUNC/BPIF protein family in saliva as it is hypothesised they play a role in the innate immune defence of the airways, nose, and ears and, of specific interest to this project, to maintaining health in our mouths. The two proteins that we plan to study in detail are BPIFA2 (SPLUNC2) and BPIFB2 (LPLUNC2) both of which are known to be present in saliva. Our previous immunohistochemical studies have shown that both proteins are expressed in normal, human salivary glands but the expression pattern changes with disease state.

This project will involve the purification of recombinant proteins generated in our lab. Importantly we have transfected expression constructs into mammalian cells to produce a number of isoforms of the proteins so that their functions can be fully elucidated. The functional work will initially focus on putative antimicrobial activities of the proteins and will undertake studies to look at interactions of the proteins with a range of oral microbes. We will also investigate the interaction of microbes, pre-incubated with the PLUNC proteins, with macrophages and neutrophils to determine any opsonising role for the proteins. Understanding the role of these proteins in inflammatory and infectious disease will help us to further understand the pathogenesis of disease and could lead to the development of new treatment regimens.

Entry Requirements

Candidates must have a first or upper second class honors degree or significant research experience.

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Northern England